Collaborations between Universities and NGOs has the potential to be enormously beneficial for both parties, underprivileged communities, and society in general. Working with NGOs on important social justice issues can bring meaning and impact to academic work. Working with universities can generate social facts and legitimised knowledge that can help raise consciousness and advance advocacy for some of the most powerless in modern societies. Yet, such collaboration is fraught with difficulties, and many collaborations have ended in frustration and disappointment for all involved. This paper asks how strong working relationships and collaborations can best be organised between NGOs and academics. Drawing on NGO and academic research, and the author’s personal experience working on migrant worker research in Singapore, this paper argues for an approach based on: acknowledging the (1) different cultures and (2) conflicting interests of NGOs and academics; (3) the need for collaborations to be based on explicit agreements and simple rules; and (4) the need for an ongoing dialogue about the best research questions and methods to achieve justice for the powerless and underprivileged.